CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1In 1994, the specialized services of the European Commission proposed reforms of the Common Market Organization (CMO), which had overseen viniculture in member states since 1962. They sought limits on the global production of wine in the European Community region and the modification of the enological rules currently in force in order to authorize chaptalization (addition of sugar) in zones where it was prohibited. This project was firmly rejected by the primary producer states. Representatives from the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) quickly proposed alternative possibilities. By positioning themselves “at the heart of a multifaceted network of information circulation” and by demonstrating a willingness to compromise with specialists in the wine and grape field, they tried to prove their legitimacy to representatives of the member states. [1] They were only partially successful: while they did achieve production limits in 1998 with drastic controls on planting rights, a second demand met with a flat refusal. The Commission wanted to assume control of definitions of enological norms: the rapid evolution in techniques demanded, it claimed, a flexibility and a reactivity that the Council of European Ministers of Agriculture – until then responsible for drawing up the list of authorized practices – would be incapable of satisfying. [2] French negotiators refused to divulge any specialized knowledge in this area, explaining that the quality of wines produced in mainland France was fundamentally connected to regulations enacted at the national level. After a few years of delays, a new reform of the CMO was proposed. In a document published on 22 June 2006, Mariann Fischer Boel, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, announced that she intended to reconceptualize “the generally artisan European model of wine-making” into “a more industrial and more competitive model”. [3] The Commission thus hoped to reduce the production of wine in the EU, by subsidizing the destruction of 400,000 hectares of vines over the course of five years. To “clean up the market”, it demanded that “non-competitive producers” be able to “pull out of the sector” under “satisfactory financial conditions”. On 1 January 2013, a full liberalization of planting rights would be undertaken: the “competitive producers” remaining in the market would then be able to expand their operations and expand their production based on their ability to export. Subsidies for distillation, currently paid by the Commission to allow grape-growers to get rid of unsold stocks, would be replaced by “national envelopes” to promote European wines in foreign markets. A transformation of nomenclature would simplify the labeling of products and make them easier to understand in other countries: “wines without a geographic marker” need only carry an indication of a varietal and of a vintage. Finally, the Commission would also undertake the monitoring of enological practices instead of the Council, in order to facilitate the streamlining of set developments in other zones of production. These proposals received hostile reactions in the majority of producer states. Nevertheless, the propositions led to a negotiation. An agreement was finally reached. It was amended by the European Parliament and then transmitted to experts involved in the activities of the Special Agricultural Committee and who help prepare the decisions of the Council of Ministers of Agriculture. The reform of the CMO was finally adopted by this group on 19 December 2007. In the process, a few modifications were added. The subsidized destruction was limited to 175,000 hectares and was authorized for only three years. The liberalization of planting rights was put off until 2015, with an extension of the deadline to 2018 for countries that requested it. The new rules are slowly coming into force. Implementation regulations have been created by the Management Committee for Wine, where national experts convene under the aegis of an appointed high-ranking European official.

2Linking the different reforms raises a question: how can we explain that in 2007 the representatives of the French government accepted the transfer of control over enological practices that they had so forcefully refused ten years prior? A partial answer can be found in the arguments accompanying the reform plans. In 1998, just as in 1994, the European Commission was not able to tie its propositions to a “policy narrative” and to justify them by referring to general principles. [4] The Commission’s attachment to obtaining control over enological practices was not presented as a manifestation of a logical necessity, inscribed in the flow of history. In 2007, on the other hand, a few simple and clearly articulated ideas lent coherence to the recommended measures and put them in long-term perspective. Emphasis was systematically placed on the idea of the “new consumer”, which was linked to the rise in influence of the “New World” on international markets. [5] Three primary proposals were set out: 1) on the global scale, a “demand” has been organically created for more standardized wines, those whose properties do not vary from one vintage to the next and which are made easy to identify by labels which give only the varietal; 2) businesses in the “New World” are more open to this “demand” than their European competitors: since their production capacity is not limited by planting rights, enormous vineyards are created which enable mechanization and economies of scale; the concentration of product offerings in the hands of a few operators allows for very effective marketing, which primarily emphasizes references to the varietal; the regulation of enological practices is supple, which allows for total control over wine-making and for constant quality control of the products, adapted to the “preferences” of the consumers; [6] 3) reforming European grape growing will help win back some segments of the market: in order to fight on equal footing with the “New World”, it is important to remedy the fragmentation of vineyards, to put wines on the market identified by their varietal, and to authorize recourse to techniques that would allow for total control over the finished product. The argument, developed in these terms, paved the way for the reform and subsequently legitimized these new ideas in many forums. The keystone of the whole project, the figure of the “new consumer” was increasingly assimilated. The reality that this term addressed was never questioned, nor was the precedence of the “demand” for wine over the “offerings” of the producers.

3Identifying the role played by the articulation of principles supporting a reform does not imply that these ideas and discourses have an autonomous force. The figure of the “new consumer” did not arise from a void. It was not appropriated in a random manner. It is important to reconstruct its trajectory and to tie it to struggles between socially situated players. [7] In other words, the question arising from the contrast between the successive reform processes undertaken by the Commission should be reformulated in a new way: why could the arguments put forth in 2007 not be used in 1998? One response can be sought in the role played by academic struggles over the monopoly of expertise. [8] The issue here is to understand how categories of analysis formed in scientific circles come to legitimize European policies. [9] Studies have shown that the Commission regularly solicits scientific analyses in order to depoliticize topics and to impose its decisions more easily upon member states. [10] The viniculture sector is a special case: if the scientific debates it raises indeed end up turning to the advantage of the Commission, they generally escape the Commission’s control and instead become part of power struggles at other levels. Moreover, we should avoid a symmetrical reading of the phenomenon, which would imply that the best-positioned actors in the academic field would have the option of imposing their opinions on European officials. Logic along these lines would lead to the characterization of an “epistemic community”, in keeping with the four criteria proposed by Peter Haas: the experts who have been mobilized would share a similar vision of the problems, would agree on the consequences that could result from proposed solutions, would create a common procedure for the validation of statements, and, finally, would bring to the table a unified “policy project”. [11] This community would apply persuasion tactics to the authorities in place, both by establishing interpersonal relationships and by using less direct methods of communication (writing reports, etc); but this community could also seek to oust the administrative teams in place and to take charge of public policies directly by successfully promoting more “modern” and more “efficient” ideas. [12] In the case that concerns us here, the connections among knowledgeable participants were never so coherent; the actors who promoted the figure of the “new consumer” in the academic world were engaged in partly unconnected struggles and were not aiming for the approval of a specific plan. Multiple spaces of confrontation arose, and no one party was fully in control of how these spaces changed or interacted. To gain a sense of the contours and organization of these spaces, this article attempts to bring together the sociology of public action and the sociology of scholarship on two levels. First, it is important to resituate the reform of the CMO within the longer-term and to consider the ways in which the categories mobilized in the analysis of viniculture came to predominate on a national scale; by studying the ways in which limitations were previously structured, we can measure the importance of the 2007 changes in greater detail. The second level of analysis examines in detail the ties created in each period between the companies active in the wine economy, the academic world, and the authorities. To reform the market to their advantage, companies may seek a “downgrading of actors linked to previous forms of commercialization”. Scientific categories provide ammunition, in the sense that “one of the effects of theory is to make sense of current trade practices by either discrediting or reinforcing them”. [13] Alternatively, researchers and university scholars can refer to “economic imperatives” to construct the social value of their work and to promote it against hierarchies that discriminate against it. Public officials seal this alliance by working toward an “intimate connection” between different “modes of formatting the social world”. By taking credit for the schema of analysis that serves both economic interests and academic careers, they work toward the “autonomization” of this schema by promoting it as self-evident. [14]

4These analytical tools allow us to understand grape growing in France as an area of struggle. Types of actors, each driven by their own motives, end up uniting to defend a shared vision of the sector. The failure or the defection of one of these actors disturbs the entire structure and rocks the boat at all levels. How legitimate bodies of knowledge are constructed and defended invariably turns out to be the decisive factor. First, convergence was apparent between the agricultural specialists in the improvement of varietals and the treatment of vine diseases, legal experts who were interested in the regulation of wine and grape markets, and the geographers who evaluated the quality of the “terroirs”: all succeeded in establishing their competence by promoting an analysis founded on the principle of protected appellations[15] and on a restrictive definition of enological practices. The schema worked in that it allowed them to deliver an articulated discourse, and it overlapped with the economic interests of the producers. The administrative services of the state ensured the “autonomization” of the categories of judgment that underpinned the schema. The impact was felt locally and internationally. As long as this balance prevailed, a transfer of control over the norms of wine-making was not possible. A reversal was provoked by the emergence of new forms of expertise that accompanied the trade policies of companies formed in the “New World”. American, Australian, and South African researchers constructed scientific networks to work toward the improvement of enological methods or to establish econometric formulas and marketing techniques geared toward wine sales. French researchers, marginalized up until that point, now rode their coattails, thus acquiring resources which allowed them to challenge the established academic hierarchy and to assert themselves as experts in vines and wine. Their narratives evoking the widespread notion of a “new consumer” would affect future market development by articulating new “demands”. With the goal of asserting itself against the Council of European Ministers of Agriculture and of legitimizing its claims to exercise increased control over the wine and grape sector, the European Commission seized upon this legitimizing figure, and validated it as an independent construct by enshrining it in a policy narrative. Trade representatives found in it a way to organize their arguments. A coalition formed, which allowed for the adoption of the project that had heretofore been contested. In short, the decisive change was neither the work of European officials themselves, nor of representatives from member states or of economic operators, who looked to each other for reinforcement. The change arose in an academic sphere that, while following its own logic, provided the keys to an alliance among several categories of actors. [16]

European policies blocked by national-level constructions of legitimate bodies of knowledge

5From the second half of the nineteenth century, many academic disciplines established their scientific legitimacy and social authority by closely associating themselves with the development of wine markets. Leaders in these disciplines took up the argument for the need for structure expressed by companies involved in the sector; they contributed in part to modeling this “professional demand” by imposing evaluation criteria that allowed them to promote their expertise. Their arguments were even more widely taken up and integrated into practice because government officials adopted them at the national level. The alliance thus created still had an impact at the local and international levels, in the sense that it stifled any alternative propositions.

An interdisciplinary alliance around the wine industry

6The organization and development of wine markets was tied up with the pronouncements of three categories of experts: agricultural engineers specialized in ecophysiology and phytogenetics working for the improvement of varietals and to protect vines from diseases; legal experts who defined the scope of appellations in regulatory texts; and geographers defining “terroirs” according to their pedological and geo-climatic properties.

7Agricultural engineers first organized themselves as a body around the legitimation of a new form of knowledge. In the second half of the nineteenth century, an operation to “discredit the peasant farmer” was undertaken. This led to “the creation of management systems for agriculture, at the heart of which was not only the agricultural engineer and his knowledge, but also his needs, his interests, and his logic”. [17] This general tendency can be linked to the development of the use of fertilizer, which itself is linked to the rise of industrialization: the waste and leftover products from certain factories were used to fertilize the ground. A market rapidly emerged in this field, but fake products threatened its success. To fight against fraud, local officials created regional laboratories to control and to certify products on the market. Engineers specialized in “agricultural chemistry” were trained in this domain. They justified their position by developing an argument presenting the peasant farmer as incapable of defending his interests by himself, or of making a distinction between “real” and fake fertilizer. In 1888, a law forced producers of fertilizer to release specific information to buyers. Sales standards were defined by commissions of experts, dominated by agricultural engineers. [18] Professional publications consolidated the basis of this system even further in the first half of the twentieth century: in circulation from the middle of the 1930s, the Journal de l’agriculture pratique claimed to build a bridge between “agronomic speculations”, cut off from the rural world, and the ignorant peasant farmer, unable to prevent disease or damage to his crops. [19] On a smaller scale, this publication strategy was also adopted to target grape-growers: starting in 1927, the daily paper La journée viticole promoted the role of the agricultural engineer specialized in ecophysiology and in phytogenetics, capable of improving the varietals to make them more resistant to diseases and of defining the treatments to ensure grape quality, thus allowing the farmer to more effectively prevent the risk of failed grape harvests.

8At the same time, legal professionals made efforts to position themselves at the heart of the “quality control” process. They progressively affirmed their hold over the organization of wine and grape markets after the approval of the first national law against the adulteration of drinks, in 1851. This text fueled a controversy over the addition of potassium bisulfate to wine (an operation more commonly called “plâtrage” in French, i.e. “plastering”): according to the terms of the new law, a seller who sold wine with added potassium bisulfate could be punished even if he had provided his client with precise information about the product, since a health risk had been identified. The stakes of this definition of harm were high. In southern regions, this process was traditionally used to stabilize wine. But it also allows for the acceleration of the fermentation process and its use might be solely motivated by a desire for increased profits. Many categories of economic actors clashed, each one attempting to obtain a legal victory for the definition that would benefit their own interests. The recorded debates favored a “legal arrangement of the market”. From this point on, “economic action” was inseparable from the definition and interpretation of the “legal precedent”. [20] The creation of a watchdog service in 1905 ratified this evolution and provided institutional support to the legal experts; the defense of client rights became a specialized domain and established a corpus of independent expertise. [21] The same year as the system of appellations was being introduced, another administrative law changed the boundaries of grape-growing territories. Interminable conflicts ensued, as each proposed borderline led to violent protests. To resolve the confusion, another law, passed on 6 May 1919, gave courts the responsibility of defining the scope of appellations d’origine while encouraging them to keep in mind “local, loyal, and constant” usages as one criterion; the law also authorized the use of a village name for wines produced in neighboring communes that had the same characteristics. New struggles ensued aimed at influencing judgments. Legal experts played a leading role in this situation. To establish their authority and lend objectivity to the divisions that that they had determined, they nevertheless had to solicit the assistance of geographers.

9The “geography of wine and vineyards” took shape in the first half of the twentieth century setting itself the “essential quest” of “understanding what makes the quality of a vintage”. [22] According to the framework defined by Vidal de la Blache, this branch of geography aimed to study the adaptation of man to his natural milieu: in endless regional studies, these geographers focused on characterizing the “natural constraints” that weigh on grape growing (topography, morpho-structural analysis, climatology and soil science) and the organizational styles that enable the grower to make the best of them. The legal texts that aimed to define the zones of production according to “local, loyal, and constant usages” were “steeped” in these geographic narratives. When the Institut national des appellations d’origine (INAO) was created in 1935, the work of geographers was presented as essential reference material that should inspire all “experts”. According to the leaders in the field, “the geographer appears as a specialist who reads the landscape in order to find in it a high-quality terroir”. [23]

10The disciplines that promoted their hold over the regulation of the grape and wine markets were consolidated and institutionalized by government officials after the Second World War. By generously financing research, the state managed to shape the “field of agricultural sciences”. [24] The Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA, National Institute of Agricultural Research) was created in 1946, with the goal of systematizing on-site experimentation and of contributing to the development of a “modern” agriculture. Bolstered by their pre-existing structure, engineers specializing in ecophysiology and in phytogenetics took control of it; the interdependent links established between directorships in this organization and the services of the Ministry of Agriculture reinforced their ability to define what constituted legitimate grape-growing practices – to measure the quality of varietals and of treatments and to establish the hierarchy of vineyards based on this information. [25] During the 1960s, geography also evolved in a remarkable fashion: “topo-geological indicators” were systematically elaborated to quantify the factors upon which the quality of a wine depends. [26] A “triangular system” was put in place, which allowed researchers engaged in this field to circulate continuously between the administrative powers, the expert authorities, and the academic sphere. Over a series of “technocratized conferences”, the contributions of geographers concerning vines and wine moved toward a general reflection on the evolution of “terroirs”. [27] Legal experts continued to use these contributions to draw up and comment upon texts that regulated appellations. This interdisciplinary coalition led to a “regime of knowledge production” that participated in the “production of representations mobilized to define action”. [28] Through its control of the specialized press, this coalition succeeded in creating a “system of categorizing thought”. [29] Its central position meant that it was systematically consulted by journalists from the mainstream press as soon as a question regarding grape growing “made the news”. This media support had the effect of rendering the coalition’s definition of legitimate practices even more essential. [30] In short, agricultural specialists, legal experts, and geographers had succeeded in acquiring a national monopoly on expertise surrounding grapes and wine. Their hold was even less contested because it extended to the local and international scale.

An interdisciplinary alliance deployed on multiple levels

11No alternative was offered to counter the representations forged in the academic sphere. Far from being the product of a passive and mechanical alignment, this situation can be explained through the overlapping of multiple interests and the circulation of multi-positioned actors. [31] If national coalitions are reproduced at the local scale, they feed off specific power relations. On the international scale, efforts were made to achieve a universalization of French categories.

12The local anchoring of the interdisciplinary alliance formed around vines and wine benefited from a struggle between wine merchants and vineyard owners. The example of Burgundy serves as an illustrative example of this process. At the beginning of the twentieth century, wine merchants from Beaune dominated the field by legitimizing two practices: the blend reinforced the vintage from Burgundy with wines from the Midi, which are more full-bodied; equivalencies allowed for the use of an appellation for a beverage without taking into account its origin, as long as the finished product possessed the expected characteristics. After the passage of the 1919 law, these wine merchants fought for the recognition of their practices as “local, loyal, and constant” usages. However the vineyard owners from Nuits-Saint-Georges and Meursault saw in this new law a way to overthrow the existing hierarchy and called for a strict definition of appellations, based on the geographic origin, and sought to have the blending and equivalency practices redefined as fraudulent. One after the other, the judgments of the courts favored the owners. This victory over the wine merchants resulted from “political and cultural connections”. [32] The mayor of Dijon, Gaston-Gérard, contributed in a decisive way to the debate. By creating a gourmet foods fair in 1921, he committed himself to diffusing, outside the local arena, an image of Burgundy wines that associated high quality with geographic origin, aligning himself with the claims put forth by the vineyard owners in their fight against the wine merchants. [33] This undertaking was even more successful because it was supported by industrial and university networks. The president of the Dijon chamber of commerce, Lucien Richard, was an early supporter. Owner of a cookie factory, he extended his business to local products that found national sales outlets (mustard, cassis liqueur); to consolidate his commercial activities, he developed an advertisement campaign that emphasized Burgundian folklore. He was named vice-president of the Dijon fair in 1921, soon after the fair was announced. [34] A second source of support came from the academic sphere. A reform allowed local collectives the possibility of creating and financing endowed university chairs. The local council of the Côte-d’Or and the city council of Dijon decided to take advantage of this opportunity. Lucien Richard supported them in this effort: he was the president of the Société des amis de l’Université (Friends of the University) and became the most important local contributor to the budget for higher education. In 1928, an endowed chair in economic geography was thus created in Dijon, and Georges Chabot became its first holder. Following the research program defined by Vidal de la Blache, he devoted himself to a volume on Burgundy, emphasizing its fine gastronomic products. Essentially, a mutually reinforcing network of the local elite was constituted: economic power and local politics created an academic outlet for Vidalian geography; in return they received recognition from the university and scholarly validation of their discourse. [35] A legitimate representation of Burgundy wines was thus created. It impacted the judgments of the local courts and fit within the power relations established at the national scale.

13The interdisciplinary alliance converging around viniculture also had an international impact. University researchers who had established a monopoly over expertise in France strived to universalize their analytical categories. As early as 1922, the Société française d’encouragement à l’agriculture (French Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture) proposed the formation of a structure that would encourage other countries to adopt the French national definitions of legitimate practices. In 1924, an “intergovernmental arrangement” was signed by Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Hungary, Portugal, and Tunisia. The International Office of Vine and Wine (OIV, Office international de la vigne et du vin) was established. The French government demanded that its headquarters be situated in Paris and that the president be Édouard Barthe – parliamentary deputy from the Hérault who devoted his entire career to the promotion of grape growing. He insisted that five French delegates be appointed to the new body, whereas Spain and Portugal only had two. The list of member states grew from year to year, but the French delegation was proportionally reinforced. The delegates were experts already active in national organizations, for example agricultural engineers and legal experts who owed their legitimacy to work published by geographers. Within the different committees and sub-committees, the commission continually succeeded in having its classification principles taken up and consecrated by the delegates from other states; [36] the ability to mobilize previously articulated expertise being a distinct advantage. Each year, the OIV published “resolutions” indicating which measures governments should adopt in order to protect grape-growing interests; the OIV submitted proposals to protect appellations d’origine, to guarantee the authenticity of products, and to facilitate the prevention of fraud. French university researchers thus succeeded in exporting their skills and in imposing their supremacy beyond national boundaries.

14Product of an interdisciplinary alliance consolidated over the years and mobilized on many scales, the definition of legitimate practices regarding vines and wine became incontestable. The complex architecture and ramifications in many fields of power prevented individual actors from debating their pertinence with any hope of success. Over the course of many decades, no debate could reach an audience unless it focused on the search for the best varietals or treatments, the geographic categorizations of “terroirs”, or how these “terroirs” were then recognized in the legal definitions of appellations. When the European Commission tried to reform the grape and wine CMO in 1998, its proposals bumped up against entrenched modes of thought. The transfer of control over enological practices was thus flatly refused. National academic milieus knew how to guarantee their survival: the French experts assigned by the Ministry of Agriculture to negotiate in Brussels were agronomists and lawyers; they impeded all alternative representations of grape-growing interests – particularly by blocking any moves in this direction by European labor unions. [37] At the same time, a movement was underway that was laying the ground for the success of the subsequent reform. This one originated in the academic sphere: the interdisciplinary alliance at the heart of the edifice was undermined; a shift in representation resulted and the Commission made good use of it.

The reversal of the academic hierarchy as a factor in political evolution

15During the 1990s, academic power relations evolved dramatically. New actors gained currency. They developed an informal coalition that set the theme of the “new consumer”: each actor found in this idea a way to legitimize his specific competencies, by discrediting those of previously dominant disciplines. Agricultural engineers specializing in biochemistry worked toward the improvement of wine-making techniques which went beyond the stage of grape growing, which specialists of ecophysiology and phytogenetics had focused on up until then; these new specialists aimed to completely control the winemaking process: complex manipulations (yeasts, filtration, etc.) allowed them to produce consistent organoleptic qualities, which they claimed were adapted to the “expectations” of consumers – unlike wines whose properties vary from one vintage to the next. Econometrists explained that it would be possible to define mathematically the “right price” for a wine on international markets and to fight back against “protectionist” measures that skew competition by imposing “artificial” prices, at the expense of the consumer. Marketing specialists established the authority of their judgments by explaining that “techniques” existed to identify the individual “expectations” and “preferences” of wine consumers. These new spheres of academic competence were developed in the United States, in Australia, and in South Africa, with close ties to the major grape and wine companies. Since the “New World” oriented itself toward the conquest of larger markets, scientific networks were created on an international scale. French researchers participated in order to enhance their resources and to challenge the established academic hierarchy.

“New World”, “new consumer”, and new knowledge

16Between 1990 and 2000, “New World” companies doubled their production capacity and augmented their exports by over 200%. [38] These companies relied upon “umbrella brands” (E. & J. Gallo in the United States, Jacob’s Creek, McGuigan-Simeon and Mildara Blass in Australia) by offering a restricted range of products, easily identified by consumers. This strategic direction is part of a carefully thought out development plan. In 1996, the Australian Wine Foundation published a document entitled “Strategy 2025”, in which a plan for conquering international markets was established over the next 30 years, with intermediate goals to be reached every five years; emphasis was placed on the concentration of investments. [39] South African authorities launched the program “Vision 2020” with the goal of developing a wine-producing economy that would be “innovation-driven, market-directed, globally competitive and highly profitable”. In order to translate these words into action, large public and private financing was granted to research institutes. These institutes aimed to redefine the conventions that dictated how a wine’s quality was judged: instead of a classification based on the “product” and reliant on a series of definitions, there would be a scale of values based on demand, the treatment of the grape, and commercial strategies which responded to the “expectations of the consumer”.

17These agricultural research institutes created in the “New World” used the bounty offered to them to orient their research toward biochemistry and the improvement of wine-making techniques. Two sub-disciplines quickly took shape. Specialists in physico-chemical analysis focused on phenolic compounds; they were interested in how these interacted as well as in their impact on the particular character or sensorial properties of wines (taste; color); separating techniques were put forward to control the compounds. Researchers in microbiology worked on alcoholic fermentation. The traditional procedure made use of indigenous yeasts. From the 1990s, research turned toward pure selected strains: a range of dry active yeasts was developed with the goal of better controlling wine-making. For each of these areas, the reference points were in South Africa. Created in 1995 in the Faculty of AgriSciences of Stellenbosch University, the Institute for Wine Biotechnology ensures the diffusion of its results and, through the Symposium on Wine Chemistry which it organizes annually, has created a one-stop-shop for scientists to rub shoulders. Additionally, the International Journal of Food Microbiology provides a forum for the most recent innovations. Similarly, the American Society for Enology and Viticulture guarantees links to wine professionals. Housed at the University of California-Davis and strongly supported by the Robert Mondavi Winery, it publishes the American Journal for Enology and Viticulture and presents the applications of the latest discoveries to wine-market actors. The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium is held under its aegis each year, in Sacramento, allowing exchanges between scientists and professionals.

18Econometric research on the grape and wine markets were developed in tandem. A primary home was offered in California: within the School of Business & Economics of Sonoma State University, the State Wine Business Institute is partially financed by the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association and E. & J. Gallo. Econometrists who teach there publish articles on wine in renowned journals (American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Perspective). They posit arguments articulated around a few central ideas. Their work focuses primarily on “price elasticity” and aims to characterize the point beyond which a buyer substitutes another alcoholic beverage for wine. Consumption behaviors (age, location, frequency) are also linked to information provided on the bottle label (character, “reliable” or “hoped for” quality). The “hedonic” pricing model examines the consumer’s willingness to pay for a higher quality product: an implicit price is defined for each characteristic; the value accorded to an extra unit is measured in each case. The implicit objective is to show that sensorial properties triumph over the classification or vintage. [40] The articulation and progressive consolidation of these approaches were finally recognized in 2006: the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) was created and began to publish the Journal of Wine Economics. Orley Ashenfelter was named president. An economics professor from Princeton and former chief editor of the American Economic Review, he was an emblematic figure for all econometrists of the grape and wine markets as well as for journalists: in 1990 he presented, first in the New York Times and later on television, an equation to calculate the “right price” of a wine based solely on climate data – a procedure that elevated certain products from the “New World” to the same level as the best European vintages. [41] With a solid editorial staff and a renowned president, the AAWE ensured significant attention for its work. It reinforced its appeal by opening its ranks to market operators and to senior government officials. Its annual convention, organized each year in a different city, brings all these players together. [42]

19The commercial strategies developed in the “New World” also established wine marketing as a discipline unto itself. This specialty appeared in Australia at the end of the 1960s, but it remained in its infancy for a long time. It began to take real shape in the 1980s, at the Roseworthy Agricultural College in Adelaide. The brainchild of Australian university researchers, the specialized journal International Journal of Wine Marketing was launched in 1989. The discipline took off in the 1990s at the School of Marketing of the University of South Australia (founded in 1991). A specialized center – the Wine Marketing Research Group – was formed there, under the direction of Larry Lockshin. The marketing of wine became a respected subject of research and teaching. “Market professionals” legitimized their pronouncements by devoting their energies to targeted “semantic work”. [43] They developed a few key ideas that were accessible to journalists and were thus rapidly integrated into the standard lexicon (“global marketing”; “customer advocacy”; “wine style preferences”…). At the same time, they also developed a methodology with scientific pretensions – “descriptive sensorial analysis” – that guaranteed them a monopoly over a subfield of expert evaluation: and with the goal of identifying the criteria that influence consumers’ choices, a costly protocol was put in place. A “panel of experts” was first created to establish a “sensorial cartography of wines”. Grades would be given for each vintage, after repeated tastings (“objective descriptors” were used to characterize odors, savors, and aromas). A “panel of consumers” (60-150 individuals chosen on the basis of their socio-economic profile) would then indicate “preferences” by giving the same wines grades between 0 and 9. The cross-referencing of results from the two panels would allow an understanding of why a product is not appreciated by a category of the population, and enable targeted advertising as a result. Surveys also aimed to clarify the role of branding in consumer purchasing. Australian researchers organized International Wine Marketing Conferences to share their results and to exchange their analyses with foreign colleagues.

20With biochemistry, econometrics, and the marketing of wine being mobilized in support of a successful commercial strategy, “New World” producers logically sought to impose these norms in international organizations. The World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) was to serve this purpose. An initiative of the United States created in 1998, the group includes business leaders as well as experts appointed by different states (Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa). Its focus has evolved concomitantly with the relationships that its members have with the gatekeepers of European grape and wine interests. At the beginning, the goal was to exert pressure on them and to convert them to free-market principles: the delegates of the “New World” who were also on the OIV worked together before each meeting of the OIV to defend common positions. The alignment of arguments (sometimes supported by the publication of “position papers”) allowed them to insist, with one voice, on the necessity of removing all impediments to the free-market economy in wine – particularly regarding the restrictions placed on authorized enological practices: according to the argument they developed, the “new consumer” in Europe should be allowed to buy the product that best met his or her expectations, without arbitrarily established norms limiting their selection and preventing them from considering American, Australian, or South African wines. Over the course of the year 2000, a change was visible: Kirby Moulton, an economics professor at Berkeley, was a candidate for the presidency of the OIV; in the end he lost by three votes, after the French delegation led an active campaign against him. [44] American authorities decided to pull out of the OIV and tried – in vain – to bring their “New World” allies with them. Under American impetus, the WWTG became an alternative ruling body: to get around the “legal straightjacket” posed by the OIV, several of its members met in December 2001 in Toronto to sign the Mutual Acceptance Agreement on Enological Practices (Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, and the United States were the first signatories; they were joined by Argentina in 2002). The text is a commercial treaty. It was presented as an application of the principles set out by the World Trade Organization (WTO): the stated goal is to remove all “obstacles to exchanges based on differences in enological practices”. This move was not without an impact on the OIV. With the application of a new international agreement signed on 3 April 2001, the Office was transformed into the International Organization of Vine and Wine – while keeping the same acronym. In addition to this change in name, new projects were defined: an “international scientific community of vine and wine” was formed, with the goal of drawing up an “International Code of Enological Practices”. The OIV was to “contribute to the international harmonization of practices […], to the elaboration of new international norms, in order to improve the conditions of creation and commercialization of grape and wine products, as well as take into account the interests of consumers” (Article 2.1c). [45] Since the unification of enological rules was based on the “new expectations” noted in the markets, member states were encouraged to make use of experts specializing in biochemistry, econometrists who evaluated the commercial impact of enological practices, and marketing professionals who interpreted the segmentation of markets. The figure of the “new consumer” and its iterations served as a lingua franca. This evolution did not take long to have an impact on the very structure of the OIV. In July 2006, Peter Hayes (an Australian) was elected president of the organization. With the announcement of the result, he made a statement in the form of a manifesto: according to him, European states “recognize that the world has completely changed since 1924 and that it must continue to change. A New World perspective can certainly help move in this direction”; a reworking of “scientific and technical alliances” was to be desired. [46]

21In turning toward the export market, American, Australian, and South African producers were effectively pushing for the acceptance of new disciplines and were ensuring their promotion in international bodies. New scientific networks were thus formed and produced powerful effects in France. Researchers who had previously been marginalized found a way to legitimize their work in their own academic sphere.

The international circulation of new knowledge and legitimizing effects

22The figure of the “new consumer” was imported into France by biochemical engineers, econometrists, and marketing specialists who found in it a way to reverse a set of previously unfavorable power relations and to make themselves players in the market for expertise. [47] Bolstered by their work with American, Australian, or South African colleagues, they emphasized their “international stature”. The “lag”, poor adaptation to “modernity”, and the “narrowness” of the previously dominant disciplines explained, they claimed, the growing marginalization of national enterprises on external markets. [48]

23French agronomists specializing in biochemistry first established contact with their South African colleagues. They spent time in Stellenbosch, collaborated on publications, and participated regularly in the Symposium on Wine Chemistry. [49] Leaders from large grape and wine companies even went to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacremento; [50] there they discovered the latest wine-making techniques and encouraged the researchers from the INRA, with whom they were working, to explore these avenues. [51] A reconstruction was thus underway which finally translated into institutional change. In 2007, the Établissement national technique pour l’amélioration de la viticulture (ENTAV – National Technical Establishment for the Improvement of Viticulture) and the Institut technique de la vigne et du vin (ITV France – Technical Institute for Vine and Wine) were combined to create the Institut français de la vigne et du vin (IFV – French Institute for Vine and Wine) and to coordinate biochemical research. The new body has 140 researchers and benefits from an annual budget of nearly 11 million euros – with additional contributions from partnerships with private companies (Eurodia; Buchler Vaslin). It has access to experimental sites in all wine-making regions, each one equipped with wine cellars and laboratories. A common research program was launched, with the title of “Innovative corrective techniques”. The brochure to promote the program refers directly to the “new consumer” and reinforces the analysis surrounding this figure.


“In the very difficult economic circumstances that the sector is experiencing, professionals are being asked to furnish innovative products that allow us to better respond to the expectations of the market. To fulfill the demands of consumers, wines must be as pleasing as possible to taste.”

25The same focus was adopted by the Unité mixte de recherche Sciences pour l’œnologie (Scientific enological research unit), jointly run by the INRA, l’école SupAgro de Montpellier (Advanced School of Agriculture, Montpellier) and the University of Montpellier (1). Seventy-five researchers and teachers worked on enological yeasts and the mastery of alcoholic fermentation. Using support provided by an experimental unit established in Pech Rouge in the Aude, they analyzed compounds present in the skin of the grape that gives wine its aroma and its body color, particularly tannins and anthocyanins. Studies showed that traditional fermentation only extracts half of these compounds. By the end of the 1990s, the “flash release” procedure had been perfected in Pech Rouge and a patent application submitted. The process raises the temperature of the grape to 95o C for a few minutes, then lowers the temperature very quickly in order to decompose the cells of the skin and to take out all of the compounds. [52] Since 2006, the researchers at Pech Rouge have coordinated a program financed by the Agence nationale de la recherche (Vins de qualité à teneur réduite en alcool – VDQA, High-quality wines with low alcohol content). They aim to develop yeasts that limit fermentation and also work to create alcohol removal procedures. The presentation of this research supposes an alignment with the “expectations of the market”. [53] The question of “adapting to the taste of consumers” is in play here.


“The quality of wines should be constructed for them, by enologists. To address biotechnological developments, public and professional research can propose concrete responses as a complement to the necessary efforts for the commercialization of wine.” [54]

27Under the banner of the “new consumer”, French econometrists also specialized in the study of grape and wine markets. They legitimized their goals of replacing previously established experts by highlighting their membership of international scientific networks. Many of them published articles in the Journal of Wine Economics written in collaboration with Anglo-American colleagues. [55] The American Association of Wine Economists opened its ranks to them and included them in its activities. Analyses based on the “hedonic” pricing model were thus devoted to the position of French vintages. Studies aimed to show that consumers’ evaluation of the quality of the wine is based less on the “terroir” (the characteristics of the soil, which way the vineyard faces, etc.) than on the techniques of wine making and on the brand. [56] This approach offered a new impetus for European structures that had previously been ignored. Created in 1991, the Vineyards Data Quantification Society (VDQS) found a new legitimacy for itself; in 2006 it was transformed into the European Association of Wine Economists (EuAWE), to underscore the link to the American scholarly association. It adopted an unambiguous slogan: “Economists at wine-production service” [sic]. Specialists in these domains found academic openings in management schools in Reims, Dijon, and Bordeaux as well as at the Institut agronomique méditerranéen in Montpellier.

28In the early 2000s, researchers working on wine marketing established themselves as well. The École SupAgro in Montpellier in particular established close links with the University of South Australia. Many of its leaders worked directly with Larry Lockshin and co-signed research articles with him. [57] They also participated in the first two International Wine Marketing Conferences, organized in Adelaide in 2003 and in Sonoma in 2005. In July 2006 this conference took place, significantly, in Montpellier. At the end of these sessions, the Academy for Wine Business Research (AWBR) was created: it aims to organize an international research network on the marketing of wine and to favor exchanges between the “New World” and Europe. A researcher from SupAgro Montpellier was included on its organizing committee. At the same time, the International Journal of Wine Marketing was rebranded the International Journal for Wine Business Research. This new publication was directly piggy-backed on the AWBR and managed by Emerald, the European leader in management publishing. A Wine Marketing Database was also created and Wine papers were put online. New French establishments were able to follow this model. The École supérieure d’agriculture d’Angers (ESA) in particular recruited marketing specialists. Within it, the Grappe research centre (Groupe de recherche en agro-industrie sur les produits et les procédés – Agro-business Research Group for Products and Procedures) focused on sensorial analysis and developed partnerships with grape and wine companies (in particular with the group “Alliance Loire Ackerman”). Since 2004, the ESA has also organized the Rencontres européennes de la viticulture (European meetings on viticulture) in the Val-de-Loire. The organization emphasizes the necessity of understanding the expectations of the “new consumer” and of adapting to them by following the model put forward by the “New World”: American, Australian, and South African speakers are regularly invited to present their perspective. The brochure for the third conference clearly indicates the spirit in which these exchanges have been conceived:


“The wine field, in constantly changing circumstances, seeks today to understand how to reach its consumers. Who are they? How do they appreciate wine? What are their expectations? As an interface between consumers and producers, the marketing of wine is the strategic tool used by the sector to respond to these questions.”

30The recurring theme of the French “lagging behind” allows the point to be driven home:


“In France we have vine growers for the vines, enologists to make the wine, but where are the ‘marketers’? […] We are miles away from the Australian approach, where wine is a subject of study in and of itself for university marketing programs.” [58]

32In the same vein, the Bordeaux École de management (BEM) created a Chair of “Wine Management” in 2007 and organizes a Wine Marketing day every year. Financed by the wine-producing company Castel, the two organizations aim to “link teaching and research to business applications”. [59]

33In addition to becoming part of international scientific networks and using them to consolidate their position at the national level, [60] French specialists in biochemistry or the econometrics and marketing of wine found their status as experts bolstered by the changes in the OIV: they were, logically, mandated by the government to participate in discussions about authorized enological practices. This recognition was not yet the guarantee of a generalized hold over the wine market. For the disciplines thus promoted in the academic hierarchy to become indispensable to high officials and economic actors – for the authority of their judgments not to be in any way challenged – it was necessary for the figure of the “new consumer” to become normalized and considered obvious. The European Commission took on this task. In pursuing its own goals, the Commission worked for the “autonomization” of the views that underlined how European production was poorly adapted to a changing market. The Commission situated these changes in a historical perspective, in order to legitimize its own aim of controlling the CMO, until now dominated by the Council of European Ministers of Agriculture. [61] The discourse articulated in the academic sphere was reformulated and then situated within a narrative about public policy: the transformation of models of consumption was presented as a fundamental shift that required a definitive break with the usual forms of economic organization. This analytical model was widely taken up and used as a starting-point for any discussion, leading to a “shared desire for reform”. An “action plan” was defined: inspiration was to be found in the tactics that had worked so well for the New World. A “model for rhetorical legitimization” reinforced this discourse by establishing a series of binary oppositions (stagnation/dynamism, obsolescence/modernity) and by formulating a competitive imperative. [62] The French researchers who had imported new forms of knowledge found in this a way to put their arguments in perspective and to escape the stigmatizing discourses of their elders, who had been prompt to denounce their blind submission to “Anglo-Saxon interests”. Having the European Commission validate their competence again reinforced their status as experts and affirmed their position in national academic spheres. [63]

34On 16 February 2006, Mariann Fisher Boel organized a seminar in Brussels called “Challenges and future perspectives for European wines”. Among the approximately one hundred people who attended, there were labor union representatives, wine merchants and distribution managers, representatives from companies indirectly implicated in the wine sector (yeast makers; restaurant chains, etc.) and researchers. The goal was to prepare the reform of the CMO. All of the participants were provided with a “working document”. Emphasis was placed on the “flexibility required to adapt rapidly to new production techniques, to new methods for labeling and marketing, as well as to consumer demands”. Workshops were organized. Led by Lars Hoelgaard, Assistant Director General for the DG AGRI, the first workshop was focused on a targeted question: “How can we reinforce the competitiveness of European wines within the European Union and across the world?” Participants were urged to indicate the way in which they intended “to respond to the needs and tastes of consumers”. A second workshop was titled “European wines and consumers” and, under the presidency of Russell Mildon, Director at the DG AGRI, members were invited to consider the following question: “How can we preserve the authenticity and the characteristics of the product while taking on board innovations and responding to new trends and to new patterns of consumption and lifestyles?” [64] Effectively, the debates were framed in such a way as to mobilize the figure of the “new consumer” as an obvious fact.

35The Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV – The European Committee of Wine Companies) soon seized on the formulation of these questions. As a representative and lobbying trade organization in Brussels, the committee had never been able to play a central role in the CMO in past decades: the hold of the Council meant the predominant role was played by national and regional organizations of producers, historically tied to the governments of member states. Trading companies could now skirt this alliance by aligning themselves with the Commission. The recently articulated public policy argument allowed them to support their ideas with general considerations – unlike their justifications for earlier reforms, which were too obviously self-serving. Enthusiastic press releases marked the negotiation process. The CEEV “advocates profound reforms in order to facilitate product adaptation, in quantity and in quality, and to respond to the needs of the market”; an “axis of priority” was drawn up, which consisted of calling for “greater ambition in the conquest of new consumers” (CEEV, 4 July 2007). Representatives of European wine merchants drew even greater attention to the “profound reforms that are indispensable for ensuring the competitiveness and the sustainable development of the European wine and grape sectors” (CEEV, 28 September 2007). In November 2007, they organized a conference in Taormina and designated Lars Hoelgaard the special guest. The president of the CEEV declared: “We need a reform of the CMO that facilitates our production decisions and allows us to better respond to the new expectations of consumers in an increasingly open and competitive market” (CEEV, 11 December 2007). The wine trade was “favorable to the proposed direction in enological practices put forward by the European Commission” to the extent that it allows “for all European production to benefit from the most recent technologies in order to preserve the quality of products and to better respond to the expectations of consumers” (CEEV, 19 March 2009). The Commission’s control over enological norms raised hopes for “a framework that allows for greater competitiveness for European wines”. It “allows the European sector to put in place internationally recognized techniques in order to be more in line with the demands of consumers” (CEEV, 24 June 2009).

36At the same time, French experts involved in national organizations enthusiastically put these new analytical schemas into practice. [65] Once they became involved in the negotiations on the reform of the CMO, those who participated in the meetings of the Conseil special agricole (Special Committee on Agriculture) strived to moderate the views of the Commission on the vineyards that they judged to be the most sensitive: they feared the social consequences of a massive pulling up of vines and an excessively swift liberalization of planting rights. The transfer of control over enological practices was, however, seen as a necessity and did not provoke any heated exchanges: the specialists in this new knowledge used the public policy argument developed in Brussels in the reports and the working notes that they wrote, as well as in their speeches before expert commissions and in the trade press. Once the new CMO was adopted, the French government did not issue any warnings to the Commission. Instead of greeting these new wine-making norms with skepticism, the government sought to justify them to grape-growers. On 29 May 2008, a “five-year plan for modernizing the French grape and wine sector” was presented during a meeting of the council of ministers. The stated goal was to “put French grape growing back in the fight in a very competitive world market”. The minister in charge of the project affirmed the necessity of “relaxing the procedures and suppressing the constraints that penalize the sector”, which would occur in particular through “the reduction of legal and administrative constraints concerning the limiting of production, of enological practices, and of authorized varietals”. [66]

37* * *

38By adopting a long-term perspective, we can understand why French authorities agreed to entrust the task of defining enological practices to the European Commission in 2007, when they were firmly opposed to the idea in 1998. The figure of the “new consumer” was the rallying point for different actors who were working towards the reversal of the old regulation model. In mainland France, close links were established, from the nineteenth century, between grape-growers’ organizations, research bodies, and public officials. The “appellation d’origine contrôlée” system and the national management of authorized enological practices were the result of this coalition. The institutionalization of this system was based on a convergence of interests and could not survive the defection of any of the parties. The balance was maintained until 1998; French experts flatly refused the transfer of enological practices over to the Commission. Nevertheless, the academic pillar supporting this approach was soon destabilized, which provoked tremors in the entire edifice. The construction and the affirmation of the “New World” were conveyed through new specialized forms of knowledge. American, Australian, and South African researchers specialized in the techniques of wine-making, econometrics, and the marketing of wine. They developed representations of viticulture that served the commercial strategies of the businesses to which they were linked. Their work allowed for the recruitment of French colleagues who had been marginalized by the previous structuring of their academic sphere and who found in the importation of foreign references a way to reverse the established hierarchy. Thus a discourse took shape on the new modes of consumption and on the necessity of reorganizing European production to adapt. According to this view, a significant change was underway and it would only be possible to fight back by conforming to the organizational schema used in the “New World” – in particular by relaxing the rules that determined enological practices. The European Commission took advantage of the analytical categories used in this argument and worked for their “autonomization”. Pushed aside by the previous coalition in favor of grape-growers’ organizations, wine merchants took up these analytical categories for their own purposes. A new alliance took shape, which quickly delegitimized the old ways and made the judgments on which they were founded seem obsolete or retrograde. French experts accepted the existence of the “new consumer” as given and saw the transfer of control over enological practices as the technical manifestation of a historical necessity. In short, the developers of the reform took advantage of an evolution in power relations that went far beyond them.

39The example of the grape and wine sector draws our attention to the necessity of paying systematic attention to the role played by research in the legitimizing of European policies. A large research field thus opens for comparative researchers. Two directions might be prioritized here. First, within the same sector, there are many kinds of academic coalitions to be considered. The trajectories of researchers and the power relations between them can differ from one member state to another. By studying the various ways they fit together in international spaces of competition, it should be possible to understand how some projects put forward by high-ranking European officials are received in certain areas. Variations among sectors could then be brought to light. The question is to determine whether the degree of embeddedness within international dynamics is a determining criterion. The easiest hypothesis is to assume that the Commission itself structures the field of expertise and then extracts from it the means to depoliticize a given question in sectors that are the least open to competition from outside the community, while struggles over the definition of legitimate knowledge escape its control to a greater degree and limit its mastery over the calendar of reforms in other cases. Only extensive empirical research will allow us to evaluate the pertinence of this matrix.

Methodological annex

40This analysis is supported by documentary research. The corpus used is comprised of sources published between March 1992 and October 2009: the author carefully worked through the trade press of the French wine sector (Réussir Vigne, La journée viticole, Le journal du vin, Le Progrès agricole et viticole, Rayon boisson, Vitisphere), reports from the European Commission, from the Agriculture and Rural Development Commission of the European Parliament, of the International Organization of Vine and Wine, of the Comité Européen des entreprises vins, and of the Commission des Affaires économiques of the French Senate. The author also consulted the minutes of the Comité de gestion des vins (1998-2008) and of the Groupe consultatif vitivinicole (2006-2007), of the Intergroup “Viticulture, tradition, quality” of the European Parliament (2006-2008) and transcriptions of debates in the European Parliament over the reform of the CMO (2006-2007). Presentation brochures from scientific associations and scholarly societies were also studied, including their organograms, curriculum vitae, and publications by their leaders, as well as programs from conferences in which they had participated. Finally, presentation brochures and organograms from research and upper-level teaching organizations specializing in the study of viticulture were also gathered, along with presentations of their funded projects and their progress reports. The collected data was analyzed qualitatively: inferences were established through their connection to direct indicators. [67]


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    Jacques de Maillard, “La Commission, le vin et la réforme”, Politique européenne, 5, 2001, 74.
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    The Commission wanted enological practices to be defined and modified within the framework of the model developed for the application of basic regulations, through a text that it would publish itself after discussion and with the opinion of the committee on wine management (a body comprised of national experts and presided over by a director from the DG AGRI). The enrichment and the acidification of wines would remain the province of the Council of European Ministers of Agriculture [COM (1998) 370 final, 16 July 1998].
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    European Commission, “Vers un secteur vitivinicole européen durable”, Speech to the Council and to the European Parliament [COM (2006) 319, 22 June 2006].
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    Vivien Schmidt and Claudio Radaelli, “Policy change and discourse in Europe. Conceptual and methodological issues”, West European Politics, 27(2), 2004, 183-210.
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    The category “New World” was forged by American and Australian producers in the early 1990s to establish their interest group in contrast to European competitors. By extension, it now includes South African, Chilean, and Argentine businesses, etc.
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    “New World” producers often have the additional advantage of being able to employ low-cost workers. (Californian vineyards often use Mexican seasonal workers.)
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    Niilo Kauppi, Democracy, Social Resources and Political Power in the European Union (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005); Jay Rowell and Emmanuel Henry, “La construction des problèmes publics en Europe: perspectives de recherche”, in Aurélie Campana, Emmanuel Henry and Jay Rowell (eds), La construction des problèmes publics en Europe (Strasbourg: Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg, 2007), 205-22.
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    Authors who use rational choice theories clash over the question of whether or not the Commission has the power only to define an agenda of reforms or if it is authorized to weigh in on deliberations within the Council. In the first hypothesis, member states defend established positions. European high officials elaborate on their positions while anticipating the alliances that may result. By placing themselves in the middle, they maximize their chances of success (George Tsebelis, Geoffrey Garrett, “Agenda setting power, power indices, and decision making in the European Union”, International Review of Law and Economics, 16(3), 1996, 345-61. To analyze the reform of the grape and wine CMO, it would thus suffice to consider that the Commission took into account the reactions of national governments recorded in 1998 and outlined a new project by slipping in the appropriate responses: measures favorable to a certain member state would win it over to the reform and avoid the creation of a counter-movement. The alternative hypothesis emphasizes evolving positions, revised through discussions (Susanne K. Schmidt, “Only an agenda setter? The European Commission’s power over the Council of Ministers”, European Union Politics, 1(1), 2000, 37-61). This approach opens up the possibility that the leaders of the DG AGRI carefully incorporated points of disagreement in the list of propositions to give recalcitrant governments the impression of having been heard in the end (uprooting, planting rights), while keeping other issues away from debate (enological practices). This double-level game relies on the skilful handling of controversy: by polarizing the attention of very diverse actors, certain questions would become blurred. Here again it would be possible to establish that the Commission deployed a particularly effective strategy in 2007, thanks to the lessons learned from previous failures. Beyond these divergences, the two analyses attribute a decisive role to the calculations of high-ranking European officials. This article takes a position breaking with this premise, and shifting the explanation toward struggles for legitimization in which the choices made are situated: according to this analysis, the key to the change seen in 2007 is found neither in the definition of the agenda nor in the course of deliberations but rather in the more general power relations established before that point.
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    Cécile Robert and Antoine Vauchez, “L’académie européenne. Savoirs, experts et savants dans le gouvernement de l’Europe”, Politix, 89, 2010, 9-34.
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    Cécile Robert, “L’expertise comme mode d’administration communautaire. Entre logiques technocratiques et stratégies d’alliance”, Politique européenne, 11, 2003, 57-78.
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    Peter M. Haas, “Epistemic communities and international policy coordination”, International Organization, 46(1), 1992, 1-35 (2).
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    Peter M. Haas, “Policy knowledge: epistemic communities”, in Neil J. Smeiser and Paul B. Baltes (eds), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2001), 11578-86.
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    Marie-France Garcia-Parpet, “Représentations savantes et pratiques marchandes”, Genèses, 25, 1996, 59.
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    Louis Pinto, “Le consommateur: agent économique ou acteur politique”, Revue française de sociologie, 31(2), 1990, 179-98 (180). Over the course of the 1970s, and in another register, the specialized press (50 millions de consommateurs, Que choisir?) contributed to “autonomizing the figure of the consumer with regard to the different social worlds with which it had until then been associated” (194).
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    Translator’s note: An appellation is a label certifying the origin of a product. Appellations are legally defined and protected. They establish a geographic zone and also specify very strict production norms (size of the farm, authorized techniques, harvest period, etc.), which are integrated into a dossier of responsibilities that the producer must respect in order to use that label.
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    This research is part of the project “Government of European industries” (GEDI), run by Andy Smith and financed by the Agence nationale de la recherche. Thanks are due to colleagues for their comments on drafts of this text.
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    Nathalie Jas, “Déqualifier le paysan, introniser l’agronome: France 1840-1914”, Écologie et politique, 31, 2005, 1-11 (2).
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    N. Jas, “Déqualifier le paysan”, 11. See also, from the same author: Au Carrefour de la chimie et de l’agriculture. Les sciences agronomiques en France et en Allemagne, 1840-1914 (Paris: Éditions des Archives contemporaines, 2001).
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    Chloé Gaboriaux, “Entre innovations agronomiques et pratiques paysannes. La figure de ‘l’agriculteur pratique’ au 19e siècle”, in Christophe Bonneuil, Gilles Denis and Jean-Luc Mayaud (eds), Sciences, chercheurs et agriculture. Pour une histoire de la recherché agronomique (Paris: Éditions Quae/L’Harmattan, 2008), 45-59.
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    Alessandro Stanziani, “Action économique et contentieux judiciaires. Le cas du plâtrage de vin en France. 1851-1905”, Genèses, 50, 2003, 71-90 (77, 81, and 89).
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    Franck Cochoy, “Figures du client, leçons du marché”, Sciences de la société, 56, 2002, 3-23 (3).
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    Raphäel Schirmer, “Le regard des géographes sur la vigne et le vin (fin du 19e-20e siècles)”, Annales de Géographie, 614-15, 2000, 345-63 (346).
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    Raphäel Schirmer, “Le géographe et l’expertise dans le domaine des vins”, Paper presented at the conference “De Jules Goyot à Robert Parker: 150 ans de construction des territoires du vin”, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Dijon, 13-15 November, 2008.
  • [24]
    Christophe Bonneuil, Gilles Denis and Jean-Luc Mayaud, “Pour une histoire des acteurs et des institutions des sciences et techniques de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation”, in C. Bonneuil, G. Denis, and J.-L. Mayaud (eds), Sciences, chercheurs et agriculture…, 5-44 (24).
  • [25]
    Christophe Bonneuil and Frédéric Thomas, “L’INRA dans les transformations des régimes de production des savoirs en génétique végétale”, in C. Bonneuil, G. Denis and J.-L. Mayaud (eds), Sciences, chercheurs et agriculture…, 113-35.
  • [26]
    R. Schirmer, “Le regard des géographes…”, 355.
  • [27]
    Gilles Massardier, “Les savants les plus ‘demandés’. Expertise, compétences et multipositionnalité. Le cas des géographes dans la politique d’aménagement du territoire”, Politix, 36, 1996, 176-7.
  • [28]
    Franck Aggeri and Armand Hatchuel, “Ordres socio-économiques et polarisation de la recherche dans l’agriculture: pour une critique des rapports science/société”, Sociologie du travail, 45, 2003, 113-33 (116).
  • [29]
    Marie-France Garci-Parpet, “La construction intellectuelle des marchés agricoles: la Société française des économistes ruraux et la revue Économie rurale”, in Céline Bessière et al. (eds), Les mondes ruraux à l’épreuve des sciences sociales (Paris: Jouve, 2007), 421-37.
  • [30]
    Arnauld Chandivert, “Les sciences sociales et l’encadrement de la ‘renaissance rurale’”, in Bessière et al. (eds), Les mondes ruraux…, 442-55. On the whole, “public policies only reinforce market channels that conform most closely to models accepted by the scientific world”. (M.-F. Garcia-Parpet, “Représentations savantes…”, 70).
  • [31]
    The notion of “scale” takes into account this fluidity, unlike “level”, which tends to impose a fixed representation of modes of action – the implicit idea being that each person is oriented in one way or the other as a function of the “opportunity structures” that are available (Andy Smith, Jacques de Maillard and Olivier Costa, Vin et politique. Bordeaux, la France, la mondialisation (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2007); see also the critical reading offered by Stéphane Boisseau in this journal: “Au cœur des activités économiques, révéler le politique”, Revue française de science politique, 59(6), 2009, 1263-8.
  • [32]
    Olivier Jacquet, Gilles Laferté, “Le contrôle républicain du marché: vignerons et négociants sous la Troisième République”, Annales Histoire Sciences Sociales, 5, 2006, 1147-8.
  • [33]
    Gilles Laferté, “La production d’identités territoriales à usage commercial dans l’entre-deux-guerres en Bourgogne”, Cahiers d’économie et de sociologie rurales, 62, 2002, 75.
  • [34]
    Gilles Laferté, “L’homme politique, l’industriel et les universitaires. Alliance à la croisée du régionalisme dans l’entre-deux-guerres”, Politix, 67, 2004, 45-69 (55).
  • [35]
    G. Laferté, “L’homme politique…”, 63-65. From the same author, see La Bourgogne et ses vins: image d’origine contrôlée (Paris: Belin, 2006), 118-22.
  • [36]
    Olivier Jacquet, “De la Bourgogne à l’international: construction et promotion des normes d’appellation d’origine ou l’influence des syndicats professionnels locaux”, Anthropology of Food, 3, December 2004, accessed 12 July 2010.
  • [37]
    J. de Maillard, “La Commission…”, 80-3.
  • [38]
    International Organisation of Vine and Wine, World Statistics, 3rd General Assembly of OIV, Paris, 2005.
  • [39]
    An extension was added in 2000 in a document entitled “Australian Wine Marketing Agenda 2000-2010”. The stated objective was to expand the export of wine sold in the price range of over 10 Australian dollars per bottle. In 2007, the document “Directions to 2025” adopted a strategy of “benchmarking” to highlight the “best practices” of the most successful exporters of wine from each price range.
  • [40]
    Éric Giraud-Héraud, Yves Surry, “Les réponses de la recherche aux nouveaux enjeux de l’économie vitivinicole”, Cahiers d’économie et sociologie rurales, 60-61, 2001, 5-23.
  • [41]
    The equation is formulated in the following way: quality of the wine (which determines the “right price”) = 12.145 + 0.00117 x winter rainfall (in mm) + 0.034111 x average temperatures during the growth period of the vine – 0.0386 x rainfall during the grape harvest period (in mm) (“Wine Equation Bends Some Noses Out of Joint”, New York Times, 4 March 1990).
  • [42]
    An Australian alternative was provided by the Center for International Economics Studies at the University of Adelaide. Kym Anderson – who was also vice president of the AAWE – directed a research program at the university entitled “Wine Economics”. Studies on the evolution of international markets were published and widely circulated (Wine Policy Briefs, Wine Discussion Papers). Researchers from this center developed an economic model called the World Multisectoral Wine Model (WMWM) which aimed to “anticipate the evolutions of globalization” in the wine and grape field.
  • [43]
    Frank Cochoy, Sophie Dubuisson-Quellier, “Les professionnels du marché. Vers une sociologie du travail marchand”, Sociologie du travail, 42(3), 2000, 362.
  • [44]
    The United States succeeded in having a principle of alternance established: a president from the “New World” would always follow a European (one term was set at three years). In 2000, the French delegation manoueuvred for the election of Felix Roberto Aguinagua from Argentina. Reiner Wittowski from Germany succeeded him in 2003.
  • [45]
    La lettre diplomatique, 58 (2002).
  • [46]
    After two years in the post, Peter Hayes declared again, “The OIV works to globalize and to simplify the practices of world viticulture, and, personally, I believe that the New World countries are better prepared to achieve these goals” (Diaro del vino, 23 June 2008). On 3 July 2009 Yves Bénard succeeded him. While the new president of the OIV was French, his profile was revealing: he was not a legal scholar but an agronomist specializing in enological practices who had devoted a large part of his career to the marketing of wines from Champagne.
  • [47]
    Accepting that a “discipline is defined not only by its intrinsic properties but by properties that it owes to its position in the (hierarchized) space of disciplines”, the process characterized here can be analyzed as a “struggle to establish ways of knowing” (Pierre Bourdieu, Science de la science et réflexivité [Paris: Raisons d’agir, 2001],123, 131 respectively).
  • [48]
    Decanter, 6 July 2006. The language of publication is, notably, a criterion of distinction: foreign viticulture research specialists endeavored for a long time to publish articles in French, co-written as often as possible with French colleagues; today the process of legitimization has been reversed.
  • [49]
    The curriculum vitae of agricultural engineers specialized in wine-making techniques shows that internships and research visits to Stellenbosch are part of the usual career trajectory (
  • [50]
    The Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Reims and Dijon help representatives of local wine and grape companies attend the symposium.
  • [51]
    The Vivelys company aims to bring together wine and grape companies with specific needs and the agricultural laboratories capable of meeting them; it has a very clear motto: “Good wine is a wine that sells”. The focus on internationally recognized research can be intensified by the effects of internal structure. The directors of the INRA encourage this focus in that they envision it as a way to compensate for the decline in the “unconditional recognition that the agricultural milieu accorded them” (Pierre Bourdieu, Les usages sociaux de la science: pour une sociologie clinique du champ scientifique [Paris: INRA, 1997], 46).
  • [52]
    Some arguments had already been put forward for these extroversion processes. “Flash pasteurization” was presented by its developers as an alternative to the chemical products commonly used in the “New World”.
  • [53]
    “Remise du Laurier 2007 Ingénieur”, INRA document, 25 September 2007. In June 2009, for the Vinexpo wine fair in Bordeaux, the Domaines d’Auriol company launched a wine with a reduced level of alcohol called So’Light. The brochure indicates that the product meets the needs of a “new generation of consumers”. The wine was put in 25cl bottles so that it would be stocked on the grocery shelves for “light” food items. Cans were also suggested for “nomadic consumption”. A partnership was sought with fitness clubs.
  • [54]
    “De la vigne au vin: biotechnologies, innovations et diversifications. Quelles perspectives en 2007?”, INRA working paper, 12 February 2007. The struggle to impose a discipline takes place through “the codification of what is taught”: “the knowledge taught becomes an indicator of the institution and of the social recognition of the discipline” (Dominique Vinck, Sciences et société. Sociologie du travail scientifique [Paris: Armand Colin, 2007], 77). The development of research in biochemistry was reinforced by the establishment of specialized training programs. For example, the Institut universitaire de la vigne et du vin (IUVV, part of the Université de Bourgogne,) offered an advanced Master’s program called “Fermenting procedures applied to agricultural food products”. Large wine companies offer more and more opportunities for graduates of these courses. These companies have access to “advice laboratories” to improve their wine-making techniques. Many have gone as far as to create their own research unit and to employ enologists trained in biochemistry. The internationalization of coursework is thus an advantage: it devalues the skills of the cellar masters, learned on the job at a vineyard (Marie-France Garcia-Parpet, Le marché de l’excellence. Les grands crus à l’épreuve de la mondialisation [Paris: Seuil, 2009], 149-50).
  • [55]
  • [56]
    See for example: Victor Ginsburgh, Olivier Gergaud, “Endowments, production technologies and the quality of wines. Does terroir matter?”, The Economic Journal, 118, 2008, 142-57.
  • [57]
  • [58]
    Hervé Hannin (professor at SupAgro) adds: in France, “analysts in the wine sector all know each other. It is not difficult since there are so few of us! Is that normal for a sector that contributes billions of euros to the commercial balance sheet? We are over-equipped in institutions and under-equipped in analysts.” (Vitinet, 2 March 2006)
  • [59]
    The structure of research on the marketing of wine corresponds to the rapid development of specialized training programs. The Bordeaux École de Management has offered, since Fall 2008, a Master’s degree in “Management of wines and spirits”. The presentation brochure emphasizes the internationalization of the program, conceived as an answer to the “globalization of commercial strategies”. Other establishments are going down the same path: the INSEEC group offers a Master’s in “Wine Marketing & Management”; the ESA in Angers includes in its model a Master’s called “International Vintage”; the ESC Dijon group is putting together a Master’s in “International commerce in wines and spirits”. Even more symbolic, the “International OIV MSc in wine management” is awarded at the end of a course program divided into 27 modules, spread over 16 months and administered by a number of “organizational centers” in Europe (including SupAgro in Montpellier).
  • [60]
    The disciplines that lost their central position became susceptible to the discourses that allowed for the elevation of their rivals. In 2004 the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers was held in Philadelphia. A panel on wine was organized. The participants decided to extend their discussions by founding the Wine Specialty Group. They began to publish a newsletter. The first edition cited a debate on the continued use of the notion of “terroir”. Some advocated abandoning it, arguing that “terroir is over and modern winemaking techniques make environmental factors less important”. Others replied that the climate in which the varietal grows still allows for significant variations (Wine Specialty Group’s Newsletter, 1(1), 2004). By concentrating on the effect of climatic variables, researchers abandoned all considerations of the adaptation of man to his environment; they moved away from a “Vidalian” analysis and aligned themselves with econometrists’ formulations. It is worth noting that no French geographer participated in the activities of the Wine Specialty Group.
  • [61]
    The capacity of the Commission to use scientific arguments to “promote its own centers of interest” is a contrast to the inability of other organizations, such as the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, to produce an effective “discourse of coordination” (cf. Ève Fouilleux, “À propos de crises mondiales…Quel rôle de la FAO dans les débats internationaux sur les politiques agricoles et alimentaires?” Revue française de science politique, 59(4), 2004, 757-82 (762, 779).
  • [62]
    Patrick Hassenteufel, Bruno Palier, “Le social sans frontières? Vers une analyse transnationaliste de la protection sociale”, Lien social et Politiques, 45, 2001, 13-27.
  • [63]
    Ève Fouilleux, Réformer la Politique agricole commune. Idées, intérêts, institutions et action publique dans l’Union européenne (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2002).
  • [64]
    A third workshop was organized and called “How to reach a sustainable European policy in wine and vine: the contributions of European vineyards today and in the future”.
  • [65]
    The new alliance may have had its own local ramifications. The regional council of Languedoc-Roussillon in particular has begun to encourage the development of knowledge of vine and wine. It funds a research program for and about regional development (PSDR, Programme de recherche pour et sur le développement régional) charged with determining ways to “adapt product offerings to the evolution of consumption trends among younger generations” (“Développement régional, Agriculture et IAA en Languedoc-Roussillon”, working paper no. 1, INRA, 2006). In 2006, the region created the “umbrella label” Sud de France to allow local producers to adopt advertising methods developed in the “New World”; “Sud de France festivals” were organized in London, Rio, Milan, Shanghai, Mexico, and New York. In November 2009, the regional administration of agriculture and forestry finally asked researchers from SupAgro Montpellier to elaborate a “development scenario” of the wine and grape sector for the two subsequent decades – in imitation of the strategic and long-term plan undertaken in Australia and South Africa in the 1990s.
  • [66]
    Press release of the council of ministers, 29 May 2008 on “the modernization plan for French viticulture”.
  • [67]
    Jennifer Platt, “Evidence and proof in documentary research. Some specific problems of documentary research”, in John Scott (ed.), Documentary Research, Vol. 1: Theory and Methods (London: Sage, 2006), 83-103.


In France, scientific networks have managed to get a monopoly on vine and wine know-how by pushing for nationalized control over authorized wine-making techniques. In 1998, the French government made the most of their assessments to counter the European Commission’s efforts to encroach on that sector. Meanwhile, international scientific networks based on new kinds of expertise were formed at about the same time. Some French scientists got involved and, in those networks, found arguments to challenge the established academic hierarchy. They emphasized the rise of the “new consumer”, whose tastes would bring about a change in existing oenological practices. In order to gain control over policymaking in this sector, the Commission appropriated their findings. This concatenation of knowledge transfers shows how scientists are involved in legitimizing European policies.

Antoine Roger
Member of the Institut universitaire de France and professor of political science at the Institut d’études politiques in Bordeaux, Antoine Roger is also director of the Centre Emile Durkheim (Research Centre funded by the CNRS and Sciences Po Bordeaux). His recent publications include the following articles: “Subversions locales et usages partisans des normes européennes. L’exemple de la petite viticulture en Roumanie”, Politix, 83, 2008, 179-202; “De la vigne à la rue. La difficile mobilisation des viticulteurs dans le département de l’Aude”, Sociologie du travail, 51(1), 2010, 21-39. Undertaken within a comparative approach, his current research focuses on the transformations of lobbying activities within the framework of European integration and on the obstacles placed on the political mobilizations of professional groups whose activities are regulated at the European level. (IEP de Bordeaux, 11 allée Ausone, F-33607 Pessac cedex).
Translated from French by 
Kathryn Kleppinger
Uploaded on on 03/03/2014
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